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The A-36A Apache — Attack/dive bomber version of the P-51 Mustang

The A-36A Apache — Attack/dive bomber version of the P-51 Mustang

The first A-36A Apache rolled out of the North American Aviation Inglewood, CA plant in September 1942, and rapidly progressed through flight testing in October. With deliveries starting soon after, the first production machines continued the use of nose-mounted .50 cal. machine guns along with four wing mounted .50 cal machine guns.


Also known by the name “Invader”, the A-36A was a ground-attack/dive bomber version of the North American P-51 Mustang. Easily recognized by the rectangular slatted dive brakes above and below the wing, a total of 500 A-36 dive bombers being produced.


In February 1942 serving alongside Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks, the P-51 Mustang I first saw combat as a low-altitude reconnaissance and ground-support aircraft. Mustang Is were first supplied to No. 26 Squadron RAF, then rapidly deployed to 10 additional squadrons by June 1942. Despite the limited high-altitude performance of the Allison V-1710 engine, the RAF was enthusiastic about its new mount, which they said performed magnificently.


The Apache dive bomber/attack aircraft served in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Italy and the China-Burma-India theater during World War II until 1944.

Photos courtesy of Stan Piet from the Air Age Media Archives

Updated: March 2, 2019 — 8:56 AM
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  1. Thanks for the article ….very interesting. I am an ardent P-51 fan…when they
    were in the war..WW II.. I was a baby…being born in 1941 just before the Empire of Japan struck Pearl. By the way I am from Malaysia ..just about the same time they struck Pearl , they landed also in Kota Baru Malaya …and created havoc my
    parents told me.

  2. Editor, why is there discussion of P-51s in an A-36A article, when the space could have been used to elaborate on the bomb capacity and record of the A-36A. Also, while the Allison engine is mentioned, more could be said whether all A-36As had the engine, and generally, more about the evolution of the A-36 over its lifespan.

  3. Hi
    Strange that the 51 D40 ended up as a primary dive bomber in Korea–P 47s were not sustainable (parts)
    I flew 83 combat missions in the Mustang with the 12th Squadron at K 46 ,
    as well as lotsof time in the phase out of the D 40 and the H model at Tyndall AFB

  4. I subscribe to your magazine probably for 20 years. I can hardly wait for each edition, keep up the good work

  5. The A-36A was NEVER officially called “Apache” by ANYONE. North American Aviation AND the USAAF called it “Mustang.” …always.

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